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 Oldest Nursery Rhyme.

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Gran
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PostSubject: Oldest Nursery Rhyme.   Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:57 am

I found myself thinking about Nursery rhymes this morning, which would be the oldest and how could they survive beyond the racial complexity we seem to have? I thought about Ring A Roses, maybe that could be a candidate, rhymes like Old Mother Hubbard have a name so can be dated. Does anyone know any really old nursery rhymes, and are they still being used by children today, will they survive another generation?
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Oldest Nursery Rhyme.   Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:48 am

The oldest recorded childrens songs were lullabies and, I think, the oldest surviving record of a lullaby may be Roman? But I wouldn't put it past the Chinese to have one older than that.

English Nursery Rhymes weren't written down until the 18th century, a quick look at Wiki gives these books as the earliest.

From the later Middle Ages we have records of short children's rhyming songs, often as marginalia.[5] From the mid-16th century they begin to be recorded in English plays.[6]
Most nursery rhymes were not written down until the 18th century, when
the publishing of children's books began to move from polemic and
education towards entertainment, but there is evidence for many rhymes
existing before this, including "To market, to market" and "Cock a doodle doo", which date from at least the late 16th century.[7]


The first English collections, Tommy Thumb's Song Book and a sequel, Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, are both thought to have been published before 1744, with such songs becoming known as 'Tommy Thumb's songs'.[8] The publication of John Newbery's compilation of English rhymes, Mother Goose's Melody, or, Sonnets for the Cradle (London, c.1765), is the first record we have of many classic rhymes, still in use today.[9][10] These rhymes seem to have come from a variety of sources, including traditional riddles, proverbs, ballads, lines of Mummers' plays, drinking songs, historical events, and, it has been suggested, ancient pagan rituals.[1] About half of the currently recognised "traditional" English rhymes were known by the mid-18th century.[11]
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Oldest Nursery Rhyme.   Sat Jul 21, 2012 8:48 am

"Ring a Ring o' Roses" is not a particularly old rhyme. It first appeared in print only in 1881, although a similar version to the same tune was apparently in existence in the 1790s. The idea that it recalls the plague of 1665 has been largely discounted.

Will children's rhymes last another generation?

Iona and Peter Opie in their "The Lore and Language of School children" (1959) suggested that children's culture is actually very resistant to change. Younger children learn the special language, games, rhymes from older children exactly as it is imparted to them with very little change, and they then pass it on to younger children again unchanged only a few years later. As such they found that children's culture sometimes even retains very old dialect words and forms far better than adult language.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Oldest Nursery Rhyme.   Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:30 am

The Opies' research was very much of its time and I wonder how relevant it is to today? While the traditional nursery rhymes will survive amongst the tots, my wee one loved them and knew lots by heart, that tends to come from the parents, books, and so forth. The decline in the kinds of games that were accompanied by more informal and localised rhymes must, I fear, mean we're rapidly losing those. When Tootsie starts school after the summer, I intend to try to find out what goes on in the playground and if they do have a corpus of rhymes and jingles. Since the kind of street play that I remember seems a thing of the past, that's probably the only place they might survive.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Oldest Nursery Rhyme.   Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:16 am

Yes you are correct ferval, the teaching has to come from parents bothering to read the books etc. The very favourite book of both my kids was a massive nursery rhyme one, which was read until it fell apart and is still remembered fondly.

I had forgotten about the games and actions that went along with many, London Bridge is Falling Down, Oranges and Lemons, Ring a Ring a Rosie and many more. Or even What's the Time Mr Wolf, do kids still play that?
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Oldest Nursery Rhyme.   Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:41 am

They still play some of those games at nursery ID, Olivia loves Mr Wolf and we play it in the garden, but somehow I don't think they'll have much cachet or be considered cool in the playground. It's the ball and skipping type games that appear to be all but gone despite projects trying to revive them.

I'd be interested to hear from those of you who live elsewhere, do you still have free range children and do they play these traditional, rhyme associated games?
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Oldest Nursery Rhyme.   Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:09 am

Yes, the children are still free range in Greece (although to a lesser extent in cities) ferval. It is one of the reasons we stayed here, children are allowed to develope at their own pace without the pressures to be something that they are not that we now have elsewhere.

I've asked around a bit but the rhyme games that we remember don't seem to have existed, just the usual Hide and Seek, Catch Chasie type ones or anything the children make up themselves along the way. Oh and games like street football etc. of course.
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Gran
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PostSubject: Re: Oldest Nursery Rhyme.   Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:45 am

The children here seem to be fairly free ranging, they run around shoeless, even go to school shoeless in the country. There are some communities on the East coast where children go to school on their horse, and on Pet Day all sorts of animals turn up like lambs, calves etc. Of course in town no way.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Oldest Nursery Rhyme.   Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:34 am

Our little town has kids fairly free-ranging too, though I don't know whether they play these skipping and rope games any more, or the hopscotch, "What's the time, Mr Wolf? etc. It is odd how these games crossed the world, staying mostly the same, but a little different. I remember reading something in NZ Words (put out by the NZ Dictionary Centre, at the time edited by my bil, and maybe written by him too) about all the different words for 'it', 'he' etc. in these games. And 'tig', 'tag' etc.

People often blame parents when kids at school have chants with dubious vocabs, racist, sexist etc. But I have always thought that children pass these things on down the ages themselves, from one class generation to the next. Like the odd bullying rules in public schools (I have just started reading The Go-Between by LP Hartley and his account of the 'rules' of sneaking at school bear very little connection to what parents and families would have done.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Oldest Nursery Rhyme.   Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:18 am

Not only that the rhymes and games crossed the world with the immigrants Caro, but also that they managed to take root and were passed down for another couple of centuries (longer in the case of the US). Despite the mixing pot of nationalities that was the colonies and the influences from all walks of life.
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